Whales and their watchers in Discovery Bay

It was reported to me by someone watching from their home that whales visited Discovery Bay on Thursday, with a fleet of whale watchers of various size surrounding them. The whales were likely the T65As, mom and her 5 kids.

Here’s what my friend reported:

Discovery Bay is a place normally void of boaters. I look out over Becket Pt. Sometimes whales come. Yesterday I saw one killer whale. There may have been more but I only saw one surface at a time. It was followed by 4 whale watching boats. 3 of them very large, slowly following the whale. The whale(s) moved to off where Joe D’Amico used to have his gun range. Then these huge whale watching boats started going full throttle past Beckett Pt towards town and some back from town. This went on for a few hours then I had to leave. I’m not sure how many boats were involved. One big boat had an especially load engine and I can only imagine what it sounded like underwater. Sometimes the boat closest to the whale would like guess where the whale was and sometimes be in front of it and sometimes behind. The others kept a bigger distance. The chase boat would slow down and turn around and head for the whale. The other boats were farther away and I guess 100 yards away. But the chase boat probably got closer than that.

A couple of things worth noting. First. The distance to the whales should be 200 yards or more by law.

In 2011, NOAA Fisheries Service adopted new regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act to protect all killer whales in inland waters of Washington. Be Whale Wise and Follow the Law. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3…

WHO do the new rules apply to?  All motorized and non-motorized vessels (including kayaks), with exceptions to maintain safe navigation and for certain types of vessels- government vessels in the course of official duties, ships in the shipping lanes, research vessels under permit, and vessels lawfully engaged in commercial or treaty Indian fishing that are actively setting, retrieving, or closely tending fishing gear.
From the BeWhaleWise web site:
Except for specific exemptions, it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United State to:
I. Cause a vessel to approach, in any manner, within 200 yards (182.9 m) of any killer whale.

II. Position a vessel to be in the path of any killer whale at any point located within 400 yards ( 365.8 m) of the whale.

WHEN do the new rules go into effect?  May 16, 2011

WHERE do the new rules apply?  In inland waters of Washington State- east of the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and south of the U.S./Canada international boundary.

WHY did NOAA adopt new regulations?  Southern Resident killer whales were listed as endangered in 2005.  Vessel impacts were identified as one of the threats.  These new regulations implement an action in the recovery plan and are designed to protect all killer whales by reducing impacts from vessels.  Additional background information on the rationale and analyses to support the regulations is available at  www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov.

IF you see boats harassing an orca, please note the name of the boats, the date, the time, general location, lat/long if you can get it (how? your smart phone! Yes, there is an app for that! Once you note these things, you can either right then or later go online and fill out the following form


Or call:

For you boaters, please learn the rules so you will help protect our Orcas and not get fined a lot of money!


3 Responses

  1. I, too, live in the area and was appalled at the number of boats that came after the orcas. I counted at least 11 boats. Washington State Fish and Wildlife had their own boat there to observe the mayhem. Believe it or not, most of those boats were from Victoria. Even as the whales were leaving the bay, the boats continued to follow and this went on for hours. How can these animals feed in peace?

  2. I suggested to a Cape George resident that she tell all her neighbors and perhaps get it in some newsletter if they have one. Libby

    On Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 4:38 PM Olympic Peninsula Environmental News wrote:

    > Al B. posted: “It was reported to me by someone watching from their home > that whales visited Discovery Bay on Thursday, with a fleet of whale > watchers of various size surrounding them. The whales were likely the > T65As, mom and her 5 kids. Here’s what my friend reported” >

  3. We also observed the same thing from Cape George. The boats were with the whales for hours, and as Discovery Bay narrows towards the bottom, I have know doubt the boats were too close. At least one was from our local Port Townsend whale cruise company, I believe. Did not recognize the largest boat. The followed or accompanied the five whales all the way down the Bay, and then all the way back out again. Way too much harassment. How about a quick 20 minutes at the most observation from afar and then depart. I agree the one boat was VERY loud.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: